When you discovered your partner’s sex addiction, did it feel like someone dropped a bomb on you?
Has your relationship been in shambles since the betrayal?
If you’re wondering how to move forward knowing what you know now about your partner, you’re not alone. Both men and women face the challenges of coping with the destructive behavior of a partner’s sex addiction.
First and foremost is the choice whether to stay in or leave the relationship.
In choosing to stay, the path to recovery may be extremely difficult yet incredibly rewarding.
Don’t Rush Your Healing
When your partner dropped the “bomb” of betrayal on you, chances are that your life shattered to pieces. You may be dealing with a feeling of shock right now. Maybe your body is responding to the shock with sleepless nights or physical illness.
Much like the destruction of a physical explosion, the inner turmoil will take some time to settle, let alone heal. This is a big deal and you don’t have to play it down because the earth failed to stop spinning even though your world seems to be at a standstill.
Although you may have decided to stay with your partner and take the necessary steps towards recovery together, you need time to heal from the initial trauma first. Whether it’s a few weeks or a few months, give yourself time to regain your footing.
Accepting the initial blow and working through the aftermath are two separate and unique processes. One precedes the other, so let it happen as naturally as possible.
Recognize It’s Not Your Fault
Many betrayed partners automatically turn inward and blame themselves. You may be thinking if only you were more attractive or had more sex, your partner wouldn’t want anyone else. Maybe your partner tried to convince you that you are to blame. But these thoughts aren’t the truth.
The truth is that your partner’s betrayal was his or her own choice. Their decisions were made independent of you. Unfortunately, these choices have trickled, or rather flooded down, to cause you great pain, but you certainly aren’t to blame.
Often, a sex addict has experienced trauma him/herself in the past. Sexual addiction is an intimacy problem more than a desire for sex. Past trauma could be fueling your partner’s addiction and neither one of you realize it. To rebuild trust, both of you need to understand this addiction and get to the root of the problem.
The concept of sex addiction can be complicated, which is why it’s a good idea to work through your situation with the help of a therapist.
Reach Out for Help
Betrayal is heartbreaking and devastating. Once the initial blow has passed, it’s easy to want to hide away from the world. It may even feel comforting.
Being alone and isolating yourself is counterproductive to your healing, though. Reach out for help in dealing with this complex issue. It’s incredibly traumatic to find out your partner is a sex addict and has betrayed your trust.
If you decide to share this with a trusted person in your life, they will hopefully lend you a shoulder to cry on (and maybe a punching bag to swing at, because let’s face it, you’ll probably be fucking infuriated). What can be even more helpful is contacting a therapist with experience helping those who have a sex-addicted partner.
A therapist can help you understand your partner’s sex addiction. While you may be curious to understand what the hell has been going on for your partner, it’s completely reasonable if a part of you wants nothing to do with learning about this. Understanding the destructive behavior will take time and probably require a learning curve. It is, however, a vital step to reclaiming your relationship and rebuilding trust once again.
Practice Open Communication
After secrets have seen the light of day, they need to stay there. In other words, you and your partner will need to be open and honest with each other on a daily basis.
Open and honest communication is especially necessary during the early stages of healing. Not only does this style of communication contribute greatly to the rebuilding of shattered trust, but it can also hold your partner accountable. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that you knowing the "nitty-gritty" play by play of your partner's sexually acting out is not healthy for you. This can actually be re-traumatizing and very damaging to you. You might be wondering, "How can my partner be honest with me if they aren't sharing specific details?" This is when it is essential to have the guidance of a therapist.
If you are already working with a therapist, that’s great news. Your therapist might have integrated the process of full disclosure in your therapy sessions. Full disclosure is essentially the betrayer telling the betrayed every sexual recount of the past in a very factual manner, without all the bullshit minimizations and rationalizations. It is a structured process that takes thoughtful preparation for both partners. When done properly, full disclosure is beneficial to many that go through it. While painful, many of my clients have expressed how the disclosure process has helped them and their relationship.
Healing takes a whole lot of work. It takes time. There is no bypassing this. I’m here to tell you that you and your partner can genuinely recover your relationship and rebuild the trust that has been shattered. I'm here to help you.